UCLA earns top seed; Pac 12, ACC lead NCAA men’s tournament bracket field
Pac 12 schools earned three of the top four seeds in the NCAA Division I men’s tournament bracket unveiled Monday afternoon, but it was conference runner-up UCLA, not champion Washington, that was seeded No. 1 overall.
The Bruins (11-3-4), seeking their fifth national title, had a higher RPI and went 1-0-1 against the Huskies (14-1-4) this year. California (12-4-2) is seeded fourth in the 48-team field.
College soccer’s traditional power conference, the ACC, has produced five of the past eight national champions and leads the way this year with six participants. Notre Dame (12-1-6) is seeded third, and conference champion Maryland (13-3-5), which will be a Big Ten team next year, is No. 5.
The marquee first-round match will take place Thursday night in Akron, Ohio, where the Zips (16-3-1) will host Indiana (8-11-12) in a battle between two of the past three NCAA champions.
Akron won the MAC title and scored regular season wins over Wake Forest and Penn State, but that wasn’t enough to earn a seed. Reigning national champ Indiana stumbled during the regular season, going 6-10-1. But college soccer’s version of the Houston Dynamo recovered during the Big Ten tournament and secured an automatic bid with a win over Michigan State in Sunday’s conference final. The winner of the first-round battle will visit No. 9 Marquette on Sunday.
The College Cup (the final four) will be played at the Philadelphia Union’s PPL Park on Dec. 13 and 15. The winner of UCLA’s section will meet the winner of Cal’s section in one semifinal, while the winner of Washington’s section will meet the winner of Notre Dame’s section in the other semifinal.
Here’s the full bracket, via NCAA.com: